The Tarnished Dream: Jason Wang
“I think that I utilize our business as a platform to drive change, good change, hopefully, whenever I can.”
When should a brand name stand up for a cause? Jason Wang has confronted that question. And he did it very publicly after attackers beat two of his workers from Xi’an Famous Foods.
Olin alumnus Jason Wang, BSBA ’09, owns a popular chain of restaurants in New York City, Xi’an Famous Foods. In the summer of 2020, one of his employees was punched in the face while she headed home on the subway, cutting her lip and bloodying her nose. Later, another was punched in the face on the way to work in the morning. The assailant had followed him off the train, looking for an opportunity.
Those are the attacks he knows about. And they’re among the nearly 6,600 incidents of anti-Asian abuse and violence recorded by the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2021. These abuses came in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, evidence of scapegoating against a population.
Wang resisted speaking out. “I kept quiet about it. I ruled against that and didn't want to traumatize employees.” But at some point, he couldn’t continue to keep quiet. In late February 2021, he appeared in a full-page, illustrated spread in the Sunday New York Times.
As he said, “even though we are not a social enterprise, more business people are taking a stand these days for the good, and it's something that is a bit contrary to traditional beliefs that business is business.”
What are the issues business leaders must confront when they decide to take a stand—or not? What’s the upside? The downside? What does the scholarship and the research say about brands taking a public stand?
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This podcast is a production of Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Contributors include:
- Katie Wools, Cathy Myrick and Judy Milanovits, creative assistance
- Jill Young Miller, fact checking and creative assistance
- Hayden Molinarolo, original music, sound design and editing
- Nate Sprehe, creative direction, production and editing
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- Lexie O'Brien and Erik Buschardt, website support
- Mark P. Taylor, strategic support
- Paula Crews, creative vision and strategic support
Special thanks to Ray Irving and his team at WashU Olin’s Center for Digital Education, including our audio engineer, Austin Alred.
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